Facebook’s discovery-focused ‘Explore Feed’ hits the desktop

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Facebook’s tests of an alternative News Feed dubbed the “Explore” feed are progressing, it seems. Previously available on mobile devices in the main navigation, Facebook’s new Explore Feed is now appearing for users on the desktop. The feed is found in the left-side sidebar, within the “Explore” section – where you’ll also find links to Facebook features like Events, Groups, Pages, Moments, Saved items, and more.

The expansion to desktop was first spotted via Matt Navarra, who shared a screenshot of the Explore Feed to Twitter.

The idea behind the Explore Feed is to help Facebook users discover more content across the social network, beyond posts from friends and Pages you already follow. Instead, this feed surfaces recommended content it thinks you might find interesting, including posts, articles, photos and videos from sources you haven’t followed yet – like Facebook Pages and other posts from publishers or news organizations.

The selection isn’t just random content, though. Items in the Explore Feed are similar to those you’ve already liked, or those popular among your network of friends, for example.

The overall goal, of course, is to increase users’ time-on-site (or time-in-app, if on mobile). This allows Facebook to serve more ads in between the content, in videos and elsewhere. Effectively, it’s a second-tier News Feed that Facebook could monetize.

At this time, however, the feed doesn’t appear to include advertising. (At least no ads appeared in tests after scrolling down for a good minute or so).

The Explore Feed itself has been in testing for some time. Earlier this year, the feed was designated by a rocket ship icon, which may have confused users who didn’t understand its purpose. But other tests had labeled the feed “Explore,” which made more sense. That name has since stuck, as that’s how the feed is now labeled on desktop as well.

Facebook has continued to say, when asked about the Feed’s expansion, that Explore Feed is just a test. But with the feed’s appearance on the desktop after months on mobile, the indication is that the testing is progressing in a positive direction.

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